Gardening, Chickens, Goats & Organizing

 
Yesterday before the arrival of yet another week of possible rain showers, we were able to till part of the garden with the tractor. The day before, we went out with a shovel and dug around a little to see if we could possibly till it up. Some of it was still too muddy from the last few weeks of rain. Although this is not best practice, we knew that if we didn’t take advantage of this small window of opportunity, it would be another week or two before the ground would be dry enough to work. 

 Before we tilled the garden I went out to dig up the wandering strawberries that had made it out of their bed and into the garden area last summer. I thought I would order more and use these to start another bed. Little did I realize that there were probably 50 plants that needed to be moved. The more of them I dug up, the more of them I found. Now I don’t need to order any more. I think this is plenty for the new bed I have in mind. They too, will have to wait until the ground is dry enough to work.

Their new home will be back there by that fence.

 

I also pulled up the last few turnips that we have been eating on and feeding to the chickens all winter long. I really hated to see the last of them go. Since the place I have planned for a new turnip crop is still very muddy, I sprinkled a bunch of seeds in an area in front of the herb bed. I’m not sure how well they will do in the summer, but it is early enough that I hope to be able to harvest greens both for us and the animals into at least early summer.

Another turnip patch will be here in front of this shed.

Cabbage

Broccoli

We planned on getting our cole crop seedlings into the ground a couple of weeks ago, but the rain and rain and snow had other plans. The weeks long cloudy weather has also put a damper (pun intended) on the growth rate of the seedlings. They have grown rather leggy, but are still pretty vigorous. Because of that, I planted four or five plants together in the hopes that one or two of them make it. I prefer to have larger plants to transplant, but that just didn’t happen this year. When I

Spinach

went out to check on them this morning, they hadn’t disappeared and most of them were upright and looked good, although rather small. A few of them looked a little limp, but that’s to be expected. The carrot and beet seedlings are still quite small, which is okay since the area they are destined for is still very muddy.

Frank has been working on getting a few things out of the garage and more organized. He came up with this idea for holding some of the extra pvc we keep on hand, as well as some of the extra antenna poles we have here and there. Great idea, and very effective.

Today while I was dressing out our two extra roosters, he also put up this board to make a place for some of our frequently used tools. This area is under a carport that is attached to the garage. It will keep our tools organized and off of the ground. Once he got the places ready for them to hang, we also cleaned them all very well with the drill with a wire brush. It is simple, effective and looks great.

Yes, the roosters. We ended up with three roosters and 19 hens from last years young birds. Two of the roosters are Buffs, either Buff Orpington or Buff Rocks. The other is was red, not Rhode Island Red or New Hampshire, but some kind of red. Well, Red matured first, but one of the Buffs had basically taken over the hen house, causing a lot of daily ruckus and much commotion. Time to get down to one rooster. Besides that, we want to make sure that all of our eggs are fertile because come the first of May we will start saving eggs to fill up two or three incubators. This will give us meat for the table and replacement hens for a new flock. The cycle continues.

Wethers

So, Eagle Eye Frank dispatched the roosters so we could have them for dinner. They were six months old and a little tough, but pretty tasty, too. I will put all of the left overs into a pot tomorrow and simmer them for most of the day to make broth and soup. That will make for an easy meal, which is good, because tomorrow we plan to butcher two of our wethers. We are out of red meat again, so it’s time to replenish the freezer. Our plans are to dress them out tomorrow, hang the meat overnight, then, besides the hind quarters, we will grind, wrap and freeze the rest the next day.

This evening when we fed the goats we moved the does to a different pasture that has more new green to eat. Things are starting to grow quickly now, and even with that, the does had really made a dent in the pasture they were in. This will give the young does some good grazing these last two weeks before they kid. We also moved the ‘boys’, the billy and the wethers to a different pasture. The primary motivation for this was to escape the large mud hole that is right in front of the gate of their previous pasture. If we are going to dispatch two of them tomorrow, we don’t want to have to drag the carcasses through a big mud hole to get them out. We will have to watch for a window of opportunity when it is not raining to kill them and bring them down to the garage. Then we will hang them under the carport to dress them out and wrap them in a meat bag so we can leave them hanging overnight in the garage. Once we get them down here, it won’t matter if it is raining, which it probably will be.

Life’s routines come and go with the seasons and we enjoy them all. Some are a little more work than others. Some make our bones a little more achy than others. Planting time is always a lot of work, sometimes back breaking work. Tending and harvesting, not so much. Raising animals is not generally a lot of work, although we do need to mix feed again. And then again, we would like to raise a whole lot more of our animal feed, which would entail more planting, tending and harvesting. I really admire our forefathers that raised what they ate, year after year. It is a lot of work to do the little we do. We are so much softer, and less skilled at it than they were. They did it out of necessity and we do it out of a desire to be more independent and less dependent. And folks think we’re nuts for living the way we do. But that’s okay. I usually think the same of them.

Until next time – Fern
 

12 thoughts on “Gardening, Chickens, Goats & Organizing

  1. Grammy, all of the bucks born here will become wethers destined for the freezer unless by chance someone comes along that needs a new billy goat, or if we just have too many animals. If we end up with more meat on the hoof than we need, we send the extras to the sale barn. We usually wait until the wethers are at least a year old before we butcher them because they don't have a lot of meat on them since they are dairy animals. I appreciate your questions and welcome anymore you may have. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.Fern

  2. A question, from someone who does not currently have animals (aside from our beagle who thinks he's people)…other than the fact that you needed the meat, how did you decide which of the wethers to butcher? Do you base that on age? On what your herd needs are? I kind of got that drift from deciding to cull the roosters. Trying to learn what I can until we can live the lifestyle…Thank you for sharing!

  3. It will dry out enough to play in the dirt one day, Sassafras. Then we'll all have more than enough to do each day besides stare at the sky. We'll probably be wishing for some clouds to shade us from the sun, too. But for now, I sure could use a lot more sunshine! Thank you for sharing.Fern

  4. Yup, we live this life because we love it, and it's really the only life we've ever known, with a couple of brief detours. I'm happy to be considered nuts by today's society…..I'd be really afraid I was living totally wrong if they thought I was as \”normal\” as them!

  5. Loved your story! I live the same way. Just butchered a large Boar goat last week and stocked up the freezer. It's satisfying knowing that what you are eating is not filled with antibiotics, growth hormones, and other assorted nasties, plus my animals live a great life with plenty of space, food and fresh water.

  6. Organizing our garden tools today too in the rainy weather here! Hubs getting the 'magic holder' up for my brooms and mops as well. Too damp to plant much, but I did 'feather' some extra zinnia seeds on the back forty and put some berries I picked into the ground today on my walk about. Too wet to actually get much else into the ground. Wonder if those little black berries (not blackberries) will ever come to fruition??? Where I picked them from the birds were having a field day and had a nest in the bush. Yesterday was tax prep day. So no planting yesterday either! ;( ~~Sassafras

  7. Sounds like we both have chicken simmering on the stove, Fiona. I like that comment about hazelnuts. That's one of the nicest ways anyone has ever used to tell us we are crazy! (-: Fern

  8. Thank you for your kind words and for sharing your thoughts, Phacelia. We really enjoy chevon. It tastes great, we know where it came from and what it's been fed. I do love spring, it's just that we could do with just a little less mud. Take care.Fern

  9. We just got two more free Roosters to butcher. Sadly but not unexpected is the wife [a sweet woman] does not like killing animals. I am simmering a pot of chicken parts and veggies to make an enriched broth. And yes you are a little bit hazelnut! We like hazelnuts though!

  10. Looks like you have a great system going! Spring is usually a muddy mess, but we all love it just the same. I think it's great that you eat your goats. They chevon isn't given the credit it deserves! Keep up the good work!

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